LS elections: Voters brave physical limitations, NRGs turn up in large numbers in Gujarat

Ahmedabad, May 7 (PTI) Voters braved physical limitations to exercise their franchise in the Lok Sabha elections in Gujarat on Tuesday, where a person with disabilities used his leg to cast his vote, and another person voted on a stretcher.

Dedicated non-resident Gujaratis (NRGs) turned up in large numbers to cast their vote in their hometowns.

The state Election Commission ensured that voting was a celebratory exercise by decorating some polling stations like wedding venues and setting up selfie points for voters to make their day memorable.

In Nadiad, which falls under the Kheda Lok Sabha constituency, Ankit Soni, who lost both hands, cast his vote using his legs.

“Around 15-20 years ago, I suffered an electric shock and lost my hands. With the blessings of my teachers and parents, I started drawing, completed CS and earned an MBA. I am working towards a PhD. I voted using my legs,” Soni said.

Corruption, joblessness and inflation in the country have come down, and this is the right time for people to use their precious votes to choose a good government to enjoy a good life, he said.

A 99-year-old voter displayed remarkable determination by visiting a polling station in Amreli in the scorching heat.

In the Rajkot Lok Sabha constituency, Jashwant Singh, a retired differently-abled employee of a state-run power utility, reached the polling station in Jetpur city in an ambulance and was carried on a stretcher.

Singh came to the polling booth in an ambulance, but as there was no wheelchair at the polling station, he cast his vote lying on a stretcher with the help of his children.

Non-resident Gujaratis (NRGs) flocked to their hometowns to participate in the electoral process.

Vibhuti Vithalani, who works in Dubai, made a special trip to her hometown, Amreli, to exercise her franchise.

Vithalani expressed excitement at casting her vote for the first time, emphasising the importance of voting as a fundamental right and urging all eligible citizens to exercise their franchise.

“I am a resident of Rajula, but I work in Dubai. I am visiting my hometown only for the election. I delayed my vacation and requested my employer to let me visit my hometown,” the first-time voter said.

Similarly, an elderly NRI couple visited their hometown, Upleta, in the Rajkot Lok Sabha constituency just for the election.

Jeevabhai and Rupiben Solanki made it a point to travel from California (USA) to cast their vote. Interestingly, their son Naresh Solanki recently became the mayor of Cerritos, a city in Los Angeles County, for the third time.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission made voting a memorable exercise for the people by decking up some centres with special care.

A model polling station was set up at Kajurda village in the Khambhaliya assembly constituency, with a red carpet to welcome voters, a waiting area, and a selfie point.

At Varkund village in Daman, first-time voters were welcomed with flowers, while a polling booth in Porbandar sported a jungle theme with statues of wild animals.

Kriti Jain, a first-time voter from Ahmedabad, said she eagerly awaited the festival of democracy.

“I am thrilled to exercise my right to vote. The Ahmedabad district administration had made a voter-friendly arrangement. It is our responsibility to empower democracy. I urge every citizen to cast their vote today,” she said.

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